Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

At first, this survey sounds nice, makes it sound like Mac OS X and *BSD boxes are safer.

However, you can't actually draw any conclusions from it. Look at this:
Of the 235,907 successful break-ins researched as part of this study, 65.64 percent, or 154,846, were made against Linux-based systems. Microsoft Windows computers accounted for 25.19 percent of all break-ins recorded, while Mac OS X or BSD-based computers accounted for just 4.82 percent of all breaches recorded.
It breaks down percentage of successful break-ins by platform. This doesn't tell me much of anything. What you would want to know is what was the percentage of successful break-ins for each platform.

Neither the MacCentral article, nor the mi2g press release give an indication of how many of each platform were studied. I suppose I'd have to buy the report to get that info.
Matai calls adoption of Mac OS X and BSD Unix "an accelerating paradigm shift" thanks to professionals who "don't have the time to cope with umpteen flavours of Linux or to wait for Microsoft's Longhorn when Windows XP has proved to be a stumbling block in some well chronicled instances."
Professionals don't cope with umpteen flavors of Linix. Normally, they'll pick one (genernally a commercially supported distribution like Red Hat or SuSE) and stick with it. Home hobbists may play around, changing from Fredora to SuSE to Gentoo to Debian to Mandrake, and so on, but a professional running a commercial server isn't going to do that. And about the problem of waiting for Longhorn after the problems with Windows XP, well, they're forgetting Server 2003.

I'm not saying that people should stick with Linux or Windows servers rather than evaluating Mac OS X or another BSD. People should evaluate their needs, and decide which platform works best for them. The point I'm trying to make is that this study doesn't mean much at all.

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